This is an excerpt from The Simple Leader: Personal and Professional Leadership at the Nexus of Lean and Zen
If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.
– Yogi Berra
So now you have defined your principles, your why? (purpose), and your mission, and you’ve thoroughly analyzed the current state of your organization, process, or even you. It’s time to look into the future. This is exciting as you get to dream and be creative!
Based on your why?, what would the ideal future state of your organization, process, or yourself look like? Think toward the long term, perhaps a very long term. What would happen if there were no constraints? What would your metrics be? What new business segments or technologies should you bring online to grow or to mitigate risk? What does your team and employees look like in terms of function and capability?
You could look at other organizations for ideas, but be very careful with benchmarking. Simply adopting someone else’s best practice usually doesn’t work. Every organization’s context, perspective, goals, capabilities, and values are different.
Another way to look at a potential future state is to consider what perfection would look like. If your goal is perfection, then some other organization’s best practice may seem like a mere stepping stone. Thinking about perfection as a possibility can radically change your perspective. Finally, once again, think about you. Where would you like to be—physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally—in ten or more years? Document this future state, just like you did for the current state.
Now compare the current and future state documents. Where are the gaps? What are the priorities of the gaps? Which are the most critical to your survival? Which have the most promise? Which are low hanging fruit that can be bridged quickly? Does the future state still align with your principles, why?, and mission? Do all of the stakeholders agree? After going through this process and answering these questions, you should have a defined future state document, showing prioritized gaps and opportunities.